By Barry Levine / CIO Today. Updated December 21, 2012.
It was the Week That Was for Instagram. After a tumultuous four days of angry users and bad press, the photo sharing site has announced that it is going back to language in its old user policy.
In the Future...
Systrom also reiterated a statement in his reply earlier in the week to the controversy, saying that the site "has no intention of selling your photos, and we never did." He added that "we don't own your photos -- you do."
Identification of Ads
He said that such an interpretation is "not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing," added that the company "does not claim any ownership rights over your photos," and promised to fix the language.
The Monday documents included a section that said "a business or entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotion, without any compensation to you." It also noted that "paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications" will not always be labeled as such, meaning that users could not tell what was an ad or not. In addition, the policies indicate no way to opt out of these terms, except to cancel one's account.
In the spring, Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion in cash and stock. In announcing the deal, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at the time that Instagram would be allowed an independent identity, but it is clear the photo sharing site is following Facebook's example in monetizing the site -- and, apparently, in alienating its users over badly received privacy and user policies.